How This Helps

Who does not love pizza? Pizza is a favorite food for many of us, and the delicious wafting smell of a piping hot cheese pizza is enough to break the resolve of many dieters and healthy eaters. Many people are even addicted to pizza, and the myriad offerings of toppings for a pizza can please even the pickiest of eaters amongst us. The problem is that pizzas are usually labeled as being unhealthy since it is high in sodium, carbohydrates, and sodium. The fact is, though, that the nutrition and ingredients of your pizza can vary depending on what you want as your toppings. 

Pizza nutrition facts

Here are some pizza nutrition facts to ponder over.

Pizza Nutrition Facts

According to the nutritional data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), here is the nutritional information for one slice of cheese pizza, approximately 127 grams of cheese pizza.[1]

· Total calories: 310

· Sodium: 740mg

· Fat: 13g

· Carbohydrates: 33g

· Protein: 13g

· Fiber: 2g

· Sugars: 4g

As mentioned above, the total calories, and pizza nutrition vary significantly depending on the cooking method, the toppings, the size of the pizza slice, and also the crust. Imagine this, a very small slice of cheese pizza has only 168 calories, but a regular-sized slice of cheese pizza provides 250 calories or sometimes even higher. 

If you add toppings of pepperoni to your cheese pizza, then the calorie count can cross over 600 calories easily.[2]

See: Best Foods For Diabetics & Shopping List

Pizza ingredients nutrition impact

Pizzas can contain many unhealthy ingredients

It is common knowledge that processed foods such as pizzas usually contain more unhealthy ingredients than foods that are made from scratch. Fast-food and frozen pizzas, especially, are more likely to contain harmful ingredients like artificial food colorings, preservatives, and unhealthy fats.[3, 4]

Most pizzas, regardless of how they are prepared, are also made from refined wheat flour, which is low in fiber and considered to be less filling than whole-grain flours. Eating too much food products made from a refined grain, such as pizza, has been associated with weight gain.[5, 6] For example, a study with 1,352 participants found that those who had an intake of over 70 grams of ready-made food products such as pizza every day were much more likely to have higher belly fat as compared to those who consumed less than 70 grams every day.[7]

See: Keto diet benefits for weight loss, diabetes & PCOS

Cutting Calories in a Pizza

Pizza with a healthy twist:

If you want to reduce the calories in a slice of pizza and also ensure that the pizza nutrition is maintained, then there are many ways to achieve this. 

Simply halving the amount of cheese in your pizza, will decrease the intake of saturated fat by a third and also cut down over 50 calories. It is an excellent idea to reduce your consumption of cheese in a pizza because many studies have highlighted that there is a clear association between high cheese consumption and a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.[8] Too much consumption of cheese is also linked with an increase in the bad (LDL) cholesterol levels in the blood.[9]

See: How long does it take to reduce cholesterol

A healthy pizza with healthy cheese

Turn to healthier cheese options

Another way to ensure pizza nutrition is to request your pizza to be made with skim cheese instead of using whole fat cheese. Some pizza parlors also provide the option of substituting regular cheese with Feta cheese as a healthy option. Feta cheese is not only lower in calories, but it is also known for its health benefits.[10]

Feta cheese is a healthy choice as one ounce of feta cheese (around 28 grams) provides only 74 total calories. At the same time, Feta cheese is rich in vitamins B6, A, and K, magnesium, iron, pantothenic acid, zinc, phosphorus, selenium.[11]

Feta cheese is also a great source of phosphorus, protein, and calcium, all of which are essential for promoting bone health.[12]

Another super benefit of adding Feta to increase your pizza nutrition is that this type of cheese is known to contain the bacteria Lactobacillus Plantarum. The advantage of this bacteria is that it is known to boost your immune system and gut health. It protects your intestinal tract from other disease-causing harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E.coli.[13, 14, 15]

See: Broccoli Nutrition & Health Benefits Diabetes, Cancer, Heart

Making a healthy pizza

Even though most types of pizza are very high in calories, carbs, sodium, and unhealthy fats, you can choose to prepare a pizza at home from scratch. You can further boost your pizza nutrition by adding nutrient-rich toppings and making the pizza from whole grains. 

Making your own pizza crust from healthy and wholesome ingredients such as whole grain and gluten-free flours will not only increase the fiber content of your pizza but also help in weight loss.[16] Many people even go the extra mile and make a completely grain-free pizza crust by choosing nut flour or cauliflower. 

Here are some more easy tips to increase pizza nutrition:

Choose fresh or cooked vegetables as toppings on your pizza that will significantly increase the vitamin, mineral, fiber, and even the antioxidant content of your pizza.[17]

• Try using out-of-the-box items such as cauliflower, quinoa, and mushrooms for making highly nutritious crusts for your pizza.

• Cut yourself a smaller slice. If at all you are having a ready-made pizza, then practice cutting yourself a smaller slice of pizza. Avoid having overly huge servings and practice portion control, especially if you are watching your weight.[18] 

• Instead of using processed meats such as bacon and pepperoni, choose healthier meats such as grilled or roasted chicken and turkey.

See: Tomato Paste Nutrition Facts & Health Benefits

Summary

Most of us love to have a pizza now and then. Some people are, in fact, so addicted to pizza that they have one every day. There is no doubt that pizza is delicious food to have, but most people know that what they are having is unhealthy for them. But it is very much possible to increase the pizza nutrition content by making certain healthy choices and putting in some thought to make a pizza from scratch at home. There are several ways to increase the nutrition value of your pizza, especially by choosing to make it yourself at home. Opt for adding vegetables and healthy meats as toppings, and having a crust made from gluten-free flour or a whole grain crust. Such small steps can make a massive difference to the overall nutritional value of your pizza. This can easily transform an unhealthy food into a healthy meal option in no time.

See: Whole Wheat Naan with Soy, Fenugreek, and Garlic

References

1. Ars.usda.gov. 2020. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 March 2020].

2. Subramanian, S., and Deaton, A., 1996. The demand for food & calories. Journal of political economy, 104(1), pp.133-162.

3. Sharma, S., 2015. Food Preservatives and their harmful effects. International journal of scientific & research publications, 5(4), pp.1-2.

4. Anand, S.P., and Sati, N., 2013. Artificial preservatives & their harmful effects: looking toward nature for safer alternatives. International journal of pharmaceutical sciences & research, 4(7), p.2496. 

5. Okarter, N., and Liu, R.H., 2010. Health benefits of whole grain phytochemicals. Critical reviews in food science & nutrition, 50(3), pp.193-208.

6. Thompson, L.U., 1994. Antioxidants and hormone‐mediated health benefits of whole grains. Critical Reviews in Food Science & Nutrition, 34(5-6), pp.473-497.

7. Alkerwi, A.A., Crichton, G.E., and Hébert, J.R., 2015. Consumption of ready-made meals and increased risk of obesity: findings from the Observation of Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Luxembourg (ORISCAV-LUX) study. British Journal of Nutrition, 113(2), pp.270-277.

8. Chen, G.C., Wang, Y., Tong, X., Szeto, I.M., Smit, G., Li, Z.N. and Qin, L.Q., 2017. Cheese consumption & risk of cardiovascular disease: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. European journal of nutrition, 56(8), pp.2565-2575.

9. Nestel, P.J., Chronopulos, A., and Cehun, M., 2005. Dairy fat in cheese raises LDL cholesterol less than that in butter in mildly hypercholesterolaemic subjects. European journal of clinical nutrition, 59(9), pp.1059-1063.

10. Laskaridis, K., Serafeimidou, A., Zlatanos, S., Gylou, E., Kontorepanidou, E., and Sagredos, A., 2013. Changes in the fatty acid profile of feta cheese, including conjugated linoleic acid. Journal of the Science of Food & Agriculture, 93(9), pp.2130-2136. 

11. Nutritiondata.self.com. 2020. Cheese, Feta Nutrition Facts & Calories. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 March 2020].

12. Rizzoli, R., 2014. Dairy products, yogurts, and bone health. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 99(5), pp.1256S-1262S.

13. Rantsiou, K., Urso, R., Dolci, P., Comi, G., and Cocolin, L., 2008. Microflora of Feta cheese from four Greek manufacturers. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 126(1-2), pp.36-42.

14. Xanthopoulos, V., Hatzikamari, M., Adamidis, T., Tsakalidou, E., Tzanetakis, N., and Litopoulou‐Tzanetaki, E., 2000. Heterogeneity of Lactobacillus plantarum isolates from Feta cheese throughout ripening. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 88(6), pp.1056-1064.

15. Tzanetakis, N., and Litopoulou-Tzanetaki, E., 1992. Changes in numbers & kinds of lactic acid bacteria in Feta and Teleme, two Greek cheeses from ewes’ milk. Journal of Dairy Science, 75(6), pp.1389-1393.

16. Slavin, J., 2004. Whole grains and human health. Nutrition research reviews, 17(1), pp.99-110.

17. Bartels, J., and van den Berg, I., 2011. Fresh fruit & vegetables and the added value of antioxidants. British Food Journal.

See: Garlic Health Benefits, Nutrition & Side Effects

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